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Celebrating Telluride

by Leonard Maltin
December 1, 2009 2:22 AM
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Even a rank amateur like me can take good pictures in Telluride. The setting is beautiful and famous people are relaxed and don’t mind being photographed. On Friday morning of Labor Day Weekend there is a brunch for festival patrons and special guests which I’m privileged to attend; that’s when I start snapping away, and you never know whom you’ll capture in the same frame. This first photo has special significance because when Laura Linney first came to Telluride with Kinsey in 2004 she fell in love with longtime festival staffer Marc Schauer—and earlier this year they were married. Linney travels the globe for her work, but has become a welcome fixture at the Festival, and Schauer continues to help shuttle guests in and out of the Rocky Mountain town with unfailing good cheer.


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Restaurateur and fresh-food guru Alice Waters (owner of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse) is a longtime Telluride attendee, as is documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. Waters inspired the festival staff to make this year’s brunch as fresh and organic as possible... and true to a promise made last year, the event “went green.” So water was sold this year; instead, each festivalgoer was given a refillable plastic bottle and coolers placed around town, and every theater offered free filtered mountain spring water.


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On Saturday, just before noon, the festival takes a “class photo” of all invited guests outside the historic Sheridan Opera House. No one hurries off, so it’s a great opportunity to chat—and take candid photos, like this one of festival director Tom Luddy with director Taylor Hackford and his wife, Helen Mirren.


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Or this one, of Ken Burns (right) chatting with two of the stars of Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, Michael Lerner and Rich Pecci. Like most other people who come to the Festival for the first time, they got caught up in the excitement of the programs and attended many programs, aside from answering questions after screenings of the Solondz picture.


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It turns out that Danish director Lone Scherfig is a camera buff, and I asked her to show off her two current favorites. One is vintage and the other is digital. Scherfig’s comedy Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself first endeared her to me, and I’m sure her newest, An Education, will have the same effect on an even larger audience.


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Jason Reitman first presented Juno as an unannounced sneak preview at Telluride two years ago and saw it go on to great success. He’s hoping lightning will strike twice with Up in the Air, which he told me is his most personal film to date.


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On Labor Day, the festival takes over the town park for a gigantic picnic. Hanging on the fence at the entryway are posters from previous year’s events, including this one drawn by Chuck Jones for the 1987 Festival, which my wife and I attended. Chuck and his wife Marian were loyal supporters of the Telluride Film Festival, which is why one of the theaters created for the event every year is named (and decorated) in his honor.


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